I am writing to you to request your attention towards an issue that affects me in the capacity of a regular cricket spectator and a fan. As you know, Pakistan has been deprived of competitive international cricket for over six years now, the wait for us cricket fans to see international action in our grounds is becoming increasingly painful.
Even though your efforts did result in making the Zimbabwean cricket team tour Pakistan for a couple of T20s and three ODIs earlier this year, consistency needs to be ensured and the success of that tour needs to be promoted much more until other cricketing nations are persuaded by the International Cricket Council (ICC ) or willingly agree to visit Pakistan.
In the same regard, even though your efforts to organise the Pakistan Super League (PSL) are highly appreciable, what’s disappointing for us Pakistanis is to watch this mega tournament being organised outside Pakistan. Countries like India are churning out such good talent from their domestic system, primarily because of the exposure these youngsters get from playing alongside international players in the Indian Premiere League (IPL), which is staged largely in India. I understand that the Middle East has served us wonderfully well in terms of letting us call their venues our home grounds, but the reality of the matter is that home is where the home crowd is and that means home soil.
I remember watching the first day and night ODI at the National Stadium in Karachi held between Pakistan and England from the Nasimul Ghani enclosure. It was Tuesday, October 24, 2000, and we took special permission from our school to leave early, as we wanted to reach the ground early. I clearly remember having to travel on foot from Hassan Square till the stadium gate, as there was no space on the road for traffic to move.
The roads were flooded with people and we were hoping to not get lost in the crowd. The passion of the crowd was as intense as the sun beating down that afternoon. Even though we had reached the stadium before the start of the game, but the journey from the entrance gate to the enclosure was around 15 overs long and by the time we could see our first live ball from the stand, Pakistan had already lost two wickets (Saeed Anwar and Saleem Elahi).
I narrate my experience only to highlight the passion and appetite of competitive cricket this nation has and how starved we are to see international stars perform on our grounds. And it’s not just the about the local spectators, imagine how great it would feel for both the fans and Younus Khan himself, had he become the highest Test run-scorer for Pakistan by hitting a six off Moeen Ali in Rawalpindi instead of Abu Dhabi.
Over the last six years, so many young cricketers have made their debuts without having their home crowd cheer their first run or having pointed towards a loved one in the crowd, after taking the first international wicket.
It is sad.
International cricket isn’t only limited to the ODIs, International T20s and Test matches, it also has a lot to do with the side matches the foreign teams play, when they arrive on tour to a country. These three to four-day matches provide opportunity to a country to build reinforcement in terms of their bench-strength and also provide a chance for non-playing talents like umpires etc. to get developed.
As a regular cricket fan, I envy every international cricket fan that has the liberty to go to a cricket ground in their country and watch AB de Villiers completely destroy a bowling attack, Lasith Malinga swinging a yorker, Mitchell Johnson’s express spell of bowling, Brendon McCullum’s stunner behind the stumps, or Imran Tahir confuse a batsman out.
International cricket on home soil not only provides entertainment to the local crowd, but also attracts revenue and opportunity for business and employment to the local communities. It is literally a gala around the stadium, where an international match is being hosted. Families come in, have fun and enjoy their time for reasons other than cricket as well, as the atmosphere is so amusing. The samosa wala roaming around in the stands, the biryani stall outside the enclosure, the face painter ‘painting the town green’, the placard and poster sellers at the entrance of the ground, all of them are linked with international cricket coming to Pakistan.
I would humbly request you to take as much interest in resuming international cricket in Pakistan as you had shown in trying to convince India to play cricket against us. It is definitely far more worthy than that.
A hopeful Pakistani cricket fan
from The Express Tribune Blog http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/29970/dear-pcb-chairman-how-about-focusing-more-on-pakistan-and-less-on-india/